100 books like Lost Mountain

By Erik Reece,

Here are 100 books that Lost Mountain fans have personally recommended if you like Lost Mountain. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Young Men and Fire

Matthew O. Jackson Author Of The Human Network: How Your Social Position Determines Your Power, Beliefs, and Behaviors

From my list on fiction driven by rich historical context.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a lover of both fiction and nonfiction, I find that the ultimate pleasure in reading is when the author combines the two without short-changing either. These are books that provide accurate and deep historical background, but also tell stories shaped by that context. These are also books that have intricate, unusual, and effective narrative structures.   

Matthew's book list on fiction driven by rich historical context

Matthew O. Jackson Why did Matthew love this book?

This book concerns a group of young firefighters known as smokejumpers and the catastrophic Mann Gulch Forest Fire in Montana in 1949. 

Maclean was from the community and worked in the US Forest Service before he became a professor and eventually an author who spent years researching the event. You learn about the physics of forest fires, the invention of the first "escape fire," how multiple and cascading errors can lead to a disastrous outcome, and about the lives and heroics of a group of firefighters.

Interestingly, it is all seen through the journey of a man trying to understand a captivating event from his past. This book falls pretty squarely in the non-fiction category, but has multiple stories interwoven with the facts. It helps that Maclean was not only an author of many nonfiction articles, but also the author of the highly successful novel (and movie) A River Runs…

By Norman MacLean,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Young Men and Fire as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When Norman Maclean sent the manuscript of A River Runs through It to New York publishers, he received a slew of rejections. One editor, so the story goes, replied, "It has trees in it." Forty years later, the title novella is widely recognized as one of the great American tales of the twentieth century, and Maclean as one of the most beloved writers of our time. Maclean's later triumph, Young Men and Fire, has over the decades also established itself as a classic of the American West. And with this twenty-fifth-anniversary edition, a fresh audience will be introduced to Maclean's…


Book cover of Night Comes to the Cumberlands: A Biography of a Depressed Area

Matthew Algeo Author Of All This Marvelous Potential: Robert Kennedy's 1968 Tour of Appalachia

From my list on Appalachia (for people who aren’t from Appalachia).

Why am I passionate about this?

I was born and raised in the suburbs of eastern Pennsylvania, not far from the Appalachian Mountains, but a world away from the place the rest of the country calls “Appalachia.” Researching All This Marvelous Potential, my book about Robert Kennedy’s 1968 tour of eastern Kentucky, was a revelation. Appalachia is rich in Black history, and queer history, and labor history, and a national leader in education. I am a journalist and author. All This Marvelous Potential is my sixth book.

Matthew's book list on Appalachia (for people who aren’t from Appalachia)

Matthew Algeo Why did Matthew love this book?

Few books have changed the course of history like Harry Caudill’s Night Comes to the Cumberlands. Exposing political corruption, environmental destruction, and endemic poverty in Appalachia, Night Comes put poverty squarely on the national agenda and inspired LBJ’s War on Poverty. Although not rigorously factual — Caudill never let the facts get in the way of a good story — Night Comes is a priceless document of its time and place, and required reading for anyone who wants to understand Appalachian culture and history in the middle of the 20th century.

By Harry M. Caudill,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Night Comes to the Cumberlands as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

At the start of the 1960s the USA was unquestionably the wealthiest and most powerful nation in the world.

Yet despite its prosperity and influence there were areas of the country which seemed to have been forgotten.

In 1962 Harry Caudill, a lawyer and legislator, decided to shine a light upon the appalling conditions which he witnessed in Eastern Kentucky.

His introduction lays out the issues which he saw before him: A million Americans in the Southern Appalachians live in conditions of squalor, ignorance and ill health which could scarcely be equaled in Europe or Japan or, perhaps, in parts…


Book cover of What You Are Getting Wrong about Appalachia

Matthew Algeo Author Of All This Marvelous Potential: Robert Kennedy's 1968 Tour of Appalachia

From my list on Appalachia (for people who aren’t from Appalachia).

Why am I passionate about this?

I was born and raised in the suburbs of eastern Pennsylvania, not far from the Appalachian Mountains, but a world away from the place the rest of the country calls “Appalachia.” Researching All This Marvelous Potential, my book about Robert Kennedy’s 1968 tour of eastern Kentucky, was a revelation. Appalachia is rich in Black history, and queer history, and labor history, and a national leader in education. I am a journalist and author. All This Marvelous Potential is my sixth book.

Matthew's book list on Appalachia (for people who aren’t from Appalachia)

Matthew Algeo Why did Matthew love this book?

A welcome and necessary antidote to J.D. Vance’s drivel, Elizabeth Catte shatters stereotypes about Appalachia with a sledgehammer then crushes the pieces to dust under her feet. Contrary to much of what you hear and read about the place, Catte’s Appalachia is diverse, creative, entrepreneurial, energetic, and smart. The problem isn’t in Appalachia. The problem is outside it.

By Elizabeth Catte,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked What You Are Getting Wrong about Appalachia as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 2016, headlines declared Appalachia ground zero for America's "forgotten tribe" of white working class voters. Journalists flocked to the region to extract sympathetic profiles of families devastated by poverty, abandoned by establishment politics, and eager to consume cheap campaign promises. What You Are Getting Wrong About Appalachia is a frank assessment of America's recent fascination with the people and problems of the region. The book analyzes trends in contemporary writing on Appalachia, presents a brief history of Appalachia with an eye toward unpacking Appalachian stereotypes, and provides examples of writing, art, and policy created by Appalachians as opposed to…


Book cover of Mud Creek Medicine: The Life of Eula Hall and the Fight for Appalachia

Matthew Algeo Author Of All This Marvelous Potential: Robert Kennedy's 1968 Tour of Appalachia

From my list on Appalachia (for people who aren’t from Appalachia).

Why am I passionate about this?

I was born and raised in the suburbs of eastern Pennsylvania, not far from the Appalachian Mountains, but a world away from the place the rest of the country calls “Appalachia.” Researching All This Marvelous Potential, my book about Robert Kennedy’s 1968 tour of eastern Kentucky, was a revelation. Appalachia is rich in Black history, and queer history, and labor history, and a national leader in education. I am a journalist and author. All This Marvelous Potential is my sixth book.

Matthew's book list on Appalachia (for people who aren’t from Appalachia)

Matthew Algeo Why did Matthew love this book?

Eula Hall, who passed away at the age of 93 in May 2021, was a bona fide American hero. A self-described “hillbilly activist” who left school after the eighth grade, Hall founded the Mud Creek Clinic in Floyd County, Kentucky, to offer free health care to the region’s poor and uninsured. Her generosity was not always well received—the clinic was once destroyed by arson—but Eula Hall helped her neighbors in ways that few other Americans ever have. The next time they tear down a Confederate statue in Kentucky, they should replace it with one of Eula Hall.

By Kiran Bhatraju,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Mud Creek Medicine as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of the 2015 Kentucky Literary Award, 2014 Nautilus Silver Medal Award for Books on Social Justice, and Foreward Reviews nominee for Biography of the Year--- From deep in the mountains of Appalachia to the steps of Capitol Hill, Mud Creek Medicine chronicles the life of an iconoclastic woman with a resolute spirit to help her people.
Eula Hall, born into abject poverty in Greasy Creek, Kentucky, found herself -- through sheer determination and will -- at the center of a century-long struggle to lift up a part of America that is too often forgotten.

Through countless interviews and meticulous…


Book cover of Reformers to Radicals: The Appalachian Volunteers and the War on Poverty

Matthew Algeo Author Of All This Marvelous Potential: Robert Kennedy's 1968 Tour of Appalachia

From my list on Appalachia (for people who aren’t from Appalachia).

Why am I passionate about this?

I was born and raised in the suburbs of eastern Pennsylvania, not far from the Appalachian Mountains, but a world away from the place the rest of the country calls “Appalachia.” Researching All This Marvelous Potential, my book about Robert Kennedy’s 1968 tour of eastern Kentucky, was a revelation. Appalachia is rich in Black history, and queer history, and labor history, and a national leader in education. I am a journalist and author. All This Marvelous Potential is my sixth book.

Matthew's book list on Appalachia (for people who aren’t from Appalachia)

Matthew Algeo Why did Matthew love this book?

The Appalachian Volunteers began in the early ’60s as a ragtag group of college kids who spent their summers fixing up one-room schoolhouses in rural Kentucky. With funding from government anti-poverty programs, it grew into a formidable organization dedicated to fighting strip mining and economic injustice. Then it was killed, like so many good things, by the Nixon administration. This superb history of the AVs is really a history of Appalachia—and America—in the 1960s.

By Thomas Kiffmeyer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Reformers to Radicals as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Appalachian Volunteers formed in the early 1960s, determined to eliminate poverty through education and vocational training and improve schools and homes in the mountainous regions of the southeastern United States. In Reformers to Radicals: The Appalachian Volunteers and the War on Poverty, Thomas Kiffmeyer illustrates how the activists ultimately failed, mainly because they were indecisive about the fundamental nature of their mission. The AVs, many of them college students, were also distracted by causes not directly connected with the war on poverty, such as civil rights and opposition to the Vietnam War. Despite some progress, the organization finally lost…


Book cover of Fever Dream

Akil Kumarasamy Author Of Meet Us by the Roaring Sea

From my list on weird sci-fi to reimagine the world around you.

Why am I passionate about this?

Ursula K. Le Guin said science fiction is a metaphor of the now. It allows us to defamiliarize ourselves with the issues around us, so we can see everything from a new lens. As someone who worked in tech spaces and once wrote a poetry-generating program, I am interested in how people use language to write about technology, at all levels. I appreciate the blend of older forms of technology like phonographs along with newer forms like ChatGPT. Languages interest me: how we translate to speak to machinery or people, and how translation itself can feel like a kind of wormhole into another world. 

Akil's book list on weird sci-fi to reimagine the world around you

Akil Kumarasamy Why did Akil love this book?

This is a wild, one-sitting read. At first you might not know where you are, but after a few pages, you’re completely hooked.

It’s creepy and visceral about what it means to be a mother when the world is turning more and more toxic. It might be considered an eco-horror book. This story works on your subconscious, leaving you with a sticky, unsettling feeling.

Also, it’s translated from Spanish. The title of the Spanish version is The Rescue Distance.    

By Samanta Schweblin, Megan McDowell (translator),

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Fever Dream as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

SHORTLISTED FOR THE MAN BOOKER INTERNATIONAL PRIZE 2017

'The book I wish I had written' Lisa Taddeo, author of Three Women and Animal

A young woman named Amanda lies dying in a remote Argentinian hospital. A boy named David sits beside her.

She's not his mother. He's not her child.

At David's ever more insistent prompting, Amanda recounts a series of events from the apparently recent past, a conversation that opens a chest of horrors. Together, they tell a haunting story of broken souls, toxins, and the power and desperation of family.

A chilling tale of maternal anxiety and ecological…


Book cover of A Fire Story

Jess Barber Author Of Reckoning 2

From my list on climate disaster.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a speculative fiction writer who often works within the genre of "climate fiction." I grew up in southern Appalachia; my hometown is a lovely place, surrounded by the beauty and wildness of the Smoky Mountains. It also happens to be centered around a chemical company where a large portion of the town works, including my father and, for a brief time, myself. I've been fascinated with the dichotomy of nature and industry for a long time, and have spent years exploring these themes in my own work.

Jess' book list on climate disaster

Jess Barber Why did Jess love this book?

Another fire, another story, this one a graphic memoir about the 2017 wildfires that ravaged Northern California, claiming dozens of lives and destroying the author's home. It's a beautiful book, illustrated with a simplicity and starkness that pulls you inexorably forward. The night of the fire itself is present in the narrative, but the majority of the book is occupied with what comes after: the unexpected kindness of friends and strangers, the nonlinear progression of grief, the bureaucracy and absurdism of tragedy, and all the questions of how you begin to rebuild.

By Brian Fies,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked A Fire Story as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Early morning on Monday, October 9, 2017, wildfires burned through Northern California, resulting in 44 fatalities. In addition, 6,200 homes and 8,900 structures and were destroyed. Author Brian Fies's firsthand account of this tragic event is an honest, unflinching depiction of his personal experiences, including losing his house and every possession he and his wife had that didn't fit into the back of their car. In the days that followed, as the fires continued to burn through the area, Brian hastily pulled together A Fire Story and posted it online-it immediately went viral. He is now expanding his original webcomic…


Book cover of Master of Poisons

Jess Barber Author Of Reckoning 2

From my list on climate disaster.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a speculative fiction writer who often works within the genre of "climate fiction." I grew up in southern Appalachia; my hometown is a lovely place, surrounded by the beauty and wildness of the Smoky Mountains. It also happens to be centered around a chemical company where a large portion of the town works, including my father and, for a brief time, myself. I've been fascinated with the dichotomy of nature and industry for a long time, and have spent years exploring these themes in my own work.

Jess' book list on climate disaster

Jess Barber Why did Jess love this book?

My favorite fantasy books are always ones that use the lens of genre to help us better understand the world we live in, and Master of Poisons accomplishes this with bells on. An epic fantasy set in a world where climate disaster looms, Master of Poisons draws from Hairston's extensive research and experience in West African, African-American, and Indigenous cultures to weave a rich narrative tapestry that casts an unflinching eye on sources of evil and cruelty, while still always finding a way to offer hope.

By Andrea Hairston,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Master of Poisons as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“This is a prayer hymn, a battle cry, a love song, a legendary call and response bonfire talisman tale. This is medicine for a broken world." —Daniel José Older

Named a Best of 2020 Pick for Kirkus Review's Best Books of 2020

Award-winning author Andrea Hairston weaves together African folktales and postcolonial literature into unforgettable fantasy in Master of Poisons

The world is changing. Poison desert eats good farmland. Once-sweet water turns foul. The wind blows sand and sadness across the Empire. To get caught in a storm is death. To live and do nothing is death. There is magic…


Book cover of To Save the Land and People: A History of Opposition to Surface Coal Mining in Appalachia

David Stradling and Richard Stradling Author Of Where the River Burned: Carl Stokes and the Struggle to Save Cleveland

From my list on the environmental movement in America.

Why are we passionate about this?

We grew up, brothers, in Cleveland’s Ohio antipode – Cincinnati – and so we knew Cleveland mostly in contrast to our home. Despite the many differences, both cities experienced the urban crisis. Richard, a journalist, was drawn to the story of Cleveland’s frequently burning river. How did the Cuyahoga become a poster child for the environmental movement? And David, an environmental historian, was drawn to Carl Stokes, a Black man with the skills to become mayor of a predominantly white city in 1968. How did he propose to solve the many problems running through the urban environment? We both wanted to know what Cleveland’s changing relationship with its river could tell us about environmental politics. 

David's book list on the environmental movement in America

David Stradling and Richard Stradling Why did David love this book?

Chad Montrie has written a series of books exploring the unsung corners of environmentalism. Actually, that’s not fair. He’s explored the center of environmentalism – the activism of the poor, the working class, the average people who have fought to protect their families, their homes, their health. In To Save the Land and People, Montrie takes us into the hollows of Appalachia, where disempowered people did everything they could – even to the point of destroying bulldozers and threatening violence – to protect their communities. Montrie’s work reminds us of the struggles in Cleveland’s disempowered neighborhoods, where efforts to improve the environment often go unnoticed and lead to few successes. 

By Chad Montrie,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked To Save the Land and People as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Surface coal mining has had a dramatic impact on the Appalachian economy and ecology since World War II, exacerbating the region's chronic unemployment and destroying much of its natural environment. Here, Chad Montrie examines the twentieth-century movement to outlaw surface mining in Appalachia, tracing popular opposition to the industry from its inception through the growth of a militant movement that engaged in acts of civil disobedience and industrial sabotage. Both comprehensive and comparative, To Save the Land and People chronicles the story of surface mining opposition in the whole region, from Pennsylvania to Alabama. Though many accounts of environmental activism…


Book cover of Light at the Seam: Poems

Jane Harrington Author Of In Circling Flight

From my list on transporting readers to the Appalachian Mountains.

Why am I passionate about this?

I live in the southern Appalachians, a place that boasts some of the most beautiful views on earth and laments some of the most ravaged landscapes. As a fiction writer who is passionate about nature and human rights, I’ve taken up my pen to craft a novel with regular people at its heart, all living regular lives that are disrupted by tragedies all too common to the region. This is the general throughline in the books I am recommending, although the themes differ. I’ve offered a variety of genres, as well, which best reflects my own bookshelf at my home in the hills. 

Jane's book list on transporting readers to the Appalachian Mountains

Jane Harrington Why did Jane love this book?

I’m including some verse in my list because there’s no better way to capture Appalachia’s mix of beauty and sorrow than with poetry. This collection by Joseph Bathanti, former poet laureate of North Carolina and longtime inhabitant of the Blue Ridge Mountains, lays bare the effects of mountaintop removal mining against a backdrop of the serene landscape it destroys. I don’t often read a book of poetry more than once, but I found myself skipping back through this one a lot, unable to turn away from the forsaken people and places of the poems. 

By Joseph Bathanti,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Light at the Seam as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Light at the Seam, a new collection from North Carolina poet Joseph Bathanti, is an exploration of mountaintop removal in southern Appalachian coal country. The volume illuminates and champions often invisible people residing, in a precarious moment in time, on the glorious, yet besieged, Appalachian earth. Their call to defend it, as well as their faith that the land will exact its own reckoning, constitutes a sacred as well as existential quest. Rooted in social and restorative justice, Light at the Seam contemplates the earth as fundamentally sacramental, a crucible of awe and mystery, able to regenerate itself and its…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Appalachia, environmentalism, and climate change?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Appalachia, environmentalism, and climate change.

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